You have to hand it to those OutKast fellas - even when they make a mess, they do it with style. But that can't change the fact that Idlewild is a disappointing attempt to bring their musical magic to the movies. Like the hip-hop/R'n'B duo's double platter Speakerboxx/The Love Below, this is less a unified whole than two solo vehicles packaged together. It may have worked on record, but doing it on film, to quote the Idlewild album, Makes No Sense At All.
What we have is an unruly mix of Purple Rain and The Cotton Club. On one side of this 30s-set film there's Andre '3000' Benjamin's soulful pianist Percival, who by day works in his dad's funeral parlour and by night plays for the crowds at the local speakeasy. Named Church, the joint is run by Rooster (Antwan 'Big Boi' Patton), who's fighting to save his business from the cold-blooded clutches of gangster Trumpy (Terrence Howard, outclassing everyone else).
"PLENTY OF VISUAL HEY YA"
The two bandmates barely share a scene until their strands do a cursory dovetail in the final act. Writer/director Bryan Barber tries to paper over the vast cracks with the razzmatazz of his earlier OutKast promos. And to an extent he succeeds: whether it's the nightclub numbers or a wall covered in cuckoo clocks, there's plenty of visual Hey Ya. There's also a truly odd bit where Percival serenades a corpse, which might have worked better if Barber had canned his half-hearted attempts at storytelling and given us a full-blown musical instead.